Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell have been denied seats on the powerful House Intelligence Committee. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday rejected the controversial legislators after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) nominated them.
McCarthy has publicly stated that Schiff “lied to the American public” and that Swalwell’s sexual relationship with a Chinese spy makes him a security risk. Transcripts show that Schiff knew there was no collusion between former President Trump and Russia but continued to make official statements that he had intelligence that there was. The Washington Post also found Schiff lied when he said he had not spoken to a so-called “whistleblower.”
“I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity matters more,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Jeffries he shared on Twitter.
“As such, in order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” he continued.
McCarthy told Jeffries the panel had been misused during the previous two Congresses, which had “severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions—ultimately leaving our nation less safe.” He added that he was committed to returning the panel to “one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
As speaker, McCarthy has the power to appoint “all select, joint, and conference committees ordered by the House,” according to the rules (pdf) of the House of Representatives. The House Intelligence Committee is a permanent select committee; Schiff and Swalwell served on it during the last Congress, with Schiff as chairman.
Over the weekend, Jeffries urged McCarthy to accept the return of Schiff and Swalwell to the panel, saying that denying them seats runs counter to the panel’s mission.
Jeffries has been criticized for calling Republican legislators who questioned details of the 2020 election “deniers” while on numerous occasions he denied the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump.
McCarthy indicated his intention to remove the pair in June last year if the GOP won the House, and in interviews with media on Jan. 9, said he’d remove Schiff, Swalwell, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from their committee assignments.
“Swalwell can’t get a security clearance in the private sector,” McCarthy told AP and Punchbowl, likely referring to reports that Swalwell was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy. “I’m not going to give him a government security clearance. Schiff has lied to the American public. He should not be on Intel.”
While Democrats criticize McCarthy’s decision, they, too, have refused to seat Republican members.
In 2021, the House voted to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committee assignments because of social media posts they had made that were considered controversial.
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), then-speaker, also rejected McCarthy’s nominations of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) for the Jan. 6 Committee, prompting McCarthy, then-minority leader, to withdraw the rest of his nominations in protest.